Scholars have criticized the issuance of nationwide injunctions by district courts, arguing that they are an inappropriate and excessive use of power. Others have defended nationwide injunctions, asserting that they are necessary to ensure complete relief for plaintiffs.
Litigation over the Clean Water Act’s (CWA’s) definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) has prominently featured the use of injunctions. A recent WOTUS case from the Fourth Circuit, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League v. Pruitt, provides a helpful lens through which to consider the benefits and drawbacks of nationwide injunctions in environmental law. The case also demonstrates the continued importance of nationwide injunctions as a check on federal agency overreach.